Improving Harvesting Techniques to Ensure Sphagnum Regeneration in Chilean Peatlands
Sphagnum species, primarily Sphagnum magellanicum Brid., are used internationally as a substrate for horticulture. Market demands have promoted indiscriminate exploitation leading to a number of potentially negative ecological and social consequences, including disruption of Sphagnum ecosystems, changes in water storage capacity of moss wetlands affecting water supply to rural communities and reduction of biodiversity. This study proposes improvements in harvesting techniques to ensure moss regeneration and promote sustainability of moss cover in harvested areas. The aim of this study was to determine the maximum harvesting depth for moss regeneration. Samples were taken and divided into sections associated with different depths. We recorded and marked the number of new green shoots of Sphagnum monthly. We found a negative relation between regeneration (appearance of new shoots) and depth. Our studies showed that 90% of new shoots recorded in 6-mo of measurements appeared within the first 12 cm depth. This work allowed us to generate some practical recommendations to farmers about maximum harvesting depth. To ensure regeneration, we recommend harvesting up to 12 cm below surface.